Monday, August 30, 2010

Natural Disaster Area

It seems a lot of my friends are natural disaster buffs. I've seen them gazing wistfully at tornadoes on news reports, talking sincerely about the tragedy while secretly yearning to one day see something like that with their own eyes.

It may surprise some of my friends to know that, even though I'm only 23 and have spent almost all of my life in the less exciting areas of Australia, I have personally experienced two separate incidents that were officially classified as natural disasters.

The first I don't remember so well, given that I was only two years old at the time. It was the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake and it made headlines internationally. All I can really remember is that I was in a Disney themed cubby house when it happened, but it was enough of a big deal that the last of the repairs were still being done when I was approaching my twenties. I also think it says something about Sydney that it was initially reported simply as a tremor in the Sydney area by their news services. Then of course they discovered that they were just getting the run-off from our quake and that it was bad enough that people actually died. Although in their defense, this was before the days of Twitter, where the world can be kept informed about these things half an hour before they happen.

The other one I remember quite well. It happened when I was at uni. In fact, I had an assignment due that day. This was 2007, year of the Totally Huge Storm. You probably heard about this if you live in Australia or look at weird pictures on the internet. A small cyclone caused massive floods, as well as a friggin huge ship washing up on the beach.

That's the Pasha Bulker. It created an unexpected tourist attraction, photo opportunities and numerous "Would you like to pash a bulker?" jokes.

As I mentioned, I had an assignment due the day this storm hit. And because I'm a good student damnit I went in to submit it in the morning before news of the storm broke. It was raining and I dashed into the hub, soaking wet but pleased with my time management skills. I looked around for the usual assignment submission services, seeing that things looked a bit awry. The following conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi, I just need to submit an assignment?
Staff: You can't, the place is flooding.
Me: But it's due today...
Staff: The entire campus has been evacuated.
Me: ...but it's due today.

Because I have my priorities in order, instead of getting the hell out of dodge I went straight to the Communications building to see if I could find someone to give my assignment to directly. Of course, the campus had been evacuated so the only other person there was the one other journalism student wandering around, repeating the mantra "But it's due today!"

Eventually, we combined forces to slip our assignments under the professor's door, leaving a courteous note explaining the circumstances. Meanwhile:

You'll be happy to know that we were not awarded any late penalties.

-Smackie Onassis